#BlogElul 2: Search


If you look at the graphic that Rabbi Sommer has kindly provided for this project, you’ll notice that several of the themes come in pairs – Hear and See, End and Begin. You’d expect today’s theme, Search, to be paired with Find, but it isn’t.

During the High Holy Day season, we search our souls, but we are not guaranteed to find anything satisfying. The Hebrew is actually “cheshbon nefesh”, arithmetic of the soul. We weigh and measure, add and subtract. We search for all the good we have done during the year, but we may or may not find it.

As humans, we are genetically programmed to look for the negative – that has always been the safest way, in a world that was full of danger. Stories about joy and generosity are boring – we want to hear about death, destruction, fear and gore. We discount the good things in our lives, and instead search for things that will make us angry and upset.

The psychologist Gay Hendricks calls this The Upper Limit Problem – we only allow ourselves so much success and love in our lives, because we think we are not worthy of any more. As soon as we reach this upper limit, we immediately search for something to bring us down – we worry, we start a fight with a loved one, or we do something really stupid with our money.

In this season of introspection, it’s worth considering this search for negativity, and to think about ways to avoid going down that path. We don’t have to search for ways to shortchange ourselves.

It’s OK to accept the abundance, success and love that come our way. We are worthy of them. We can accept them with gratitude, as the gifts that they are.

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